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Shock know Sharks can turn at any time

Spokane Shock coach Andy Olson is wary of today’s AFL opponent, Jacksonville. (Dan Pelle)
Spokane Shock coach Andy Olson is wary of today’s AFL opponent, Jacksonville. (Dan Pelle)

The Jacksonville Sharks’ record doesn’t match up with their personnel or statistics. Spokane Shock coach Andy Olson hopes that trend continues for at least one more game.

The Sharks have numbers that suggest they’re better than their 3-7 record entering today’s game against visiting Spokane (6-5) at Sea Best Field. Jacksonville is minus-6 in point differential but trails South Division rivals Tampa Bay (5-6, minus-37) and Orlando (6-5, minus-18).

“They’re a veteran team, pretty much the same team they had last year when they won 11, 12 games,” Olson said. “Right now they have some chemistry issues, the ball hasn’t been bouncing their way. They’re very capable of beating anybody. They went toe to toe with (undefeated) Arizona a few weeks ago.”

Spokane snapped a three-game losing streak with a 58-48 win over Portland last week. The victory, coupled with San Jose’s loss to Arizona, pulled Spokane within a game of the SaberCats in the Pacific Division. San Jose, which entertains Spokane next week, put veteran quarterback Russ Michna on injured reserve earlier this week.

Meanwhile, four-time defending South champion Jacksonville has the seventh-worst record of eight American Conference teams. The top four advance to the playoffs.

“Jacksonville is going to be extremely hungry,” Olson said. “If they lose this game, they’re going to be pretty close to being knocked out.”

Quarterback R.J. Archer is fourth in the Arena Football League in passer rating. Archer had three straight games without an interception before tossing one pick in last week’s loss to Tampa Bay. Top receiver London Crawford is on injured reserve, but Archer has proven targets in Jeron Harvey (64 catches, 708 yards and 17 touchdowns) and Jomo Wilson (40-548-10).

“I’ve played against all of them before,” Shock defensive back Paul Stephens said. “They’re good players. We’re taking them very seriously. We’re going to get after them.”

Jacksonville is plus-6 in turnover margin. Former Shock defensive standouts Jerry Turner (five sacks) and Aaron Robbins (two sacks) haven’t matched their 2013 seasons when both earned All-AFL second-team honors.